They say that running is cheaper than therapy. Well, I’m not sure of that, given how much money I have spent on running this year, in my endeavour to participate in nearly every event in the running calendar on the east coast, from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. (It’s amazing how expensive a ‘free’ sport can be.) But running is certainly akin to therapy. Running releases more than just sweat. It releases endorphins, stress and anxiety. If you don’t have the answers to your problems after 3 hours of running around the beaches on a Sunday morning while the sun rises and the rest of the world is still asleep, those answers aren’t coming.
According to Runners World, exercised-induced happiness fights anger, sadness and anxiety. So what happens when you take that exercise-induced happiness away, for example in the case of the tapering runner? I was about to find out….
Sunday is usually my long run day. I’m currently tapering for the Sydney marathon next weekend (a concept i am not overly familiar with, as the majority of my marathons this year have been done as long training runs, with no significant taper or recovery period.) This weekend, I did a shortish run on Saturday, and took Sunday off. My body clock knew it was Sunday though, and still woke me up at 5:30am. With no scheduled run to help burn off some of the energy from the increased carb intake that often accompanies the taper period, my mind was working double-time. My kilometres have been reduced. I am suffering from endorphin depravation. I justify eating an entire bag of Chicos because hey, I’m carbo loading, and candy is a suitable form of carbs, right? Sugar high, and then subsequent sugar low follows. I’m tired. And without going into specifics, lets just say that a bout of taper-induced psychosis was not far away. (I’m an addict, my drug of choice has been taken away from me. did you think this was going to end well?…)
Taper-induced madness (or in extreme cases like mine, taper-induced psychosis): side effects may include mood swings, angry outbursts, paranoia, anxiety, fragile self-confidence, obsessiveness and tears for no apparent reason.
So to anybody who may encounter me (or any tapering runner) in the next week, be it friends, colleagues, or random strangers in the line for my morning coffee, you have been warned. Please keep in mind, runners are not themselves when they are tapering. We promise to return to our normal, happy, endorphin-filled selves after race day. That is, of course, unless we develop a case of post-race blues, but that is a whole new story.